April 06, 2009

New Rainbow’s End director begins duties April 22

by Christi Mathis

Darlene Waier
CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Darlene Waier, a former kindergarten teacher, longtime educator and administrator, is the new director of Rainbow’s End Child Development Center at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. The SIUC alumna will begin her new position April 22.

Waier’s extensive experience, management skills and “broad vision for what that unit can be as part of Student Affairs and the University” made her the selection committee’s clear choice to fill the post, said Peter Gitau, associate vice chancellor of Student Affairs.

“I’m very excited about this position and getting back on campus,” Waier said. “I want to get involved with not just Rainbow’s End but campus activities as well.”

She said her first priority is meeting with staff parents and Student Affairs personnel to see what their needs and goals are relative to Rainbow’s End. She said she welcomes input. Also tops on her goals list is helping the Rainbow’s End program secure National Association for the Education of Young Children accreditation, an important accreditation that has lapsed, she said.

Gitau said Rainbow’s End is not a typical daycare center, but rather “we’re a development center” and Waier brings to the center management skills, familiarity with the field of early childhood education and grant-writing skills.

“She is an innovative thinker with proven business, management, fund-raising and grant-writing skills,” Gitau said. In addition to having experience working with children, Waier “is not a stranger to SIUC,” he said.

Waier earned a pair of degrees at SIUC, completing her bachelor of science in elementary education in 1983 and her master’s of science in educational psychology in 1989. She earned an associate degree from Rend Lake College. She’s also completed additional coursework in higher education administration.

Most recently, Waier has served as county director for the Hamilton-Wayne-White County University of Illinois Extension Unit since 2002, preceded by three years as director of the Jefferson County unit. Her experience also includes five years as the assistant dean for external affairs at the SIU School of Law, two years as assistant director of the SIUC Placement Office, three years as director of entrepreneurial development for Ernst & Young LLP in St. Louis and a stint as a department manager for Meis Department Store.

Waier taught kindergarten at De Soto Elementary School before working as a tutor for the Jackson County Truancy Program, a homebound instructor for Carbondale Community High School, a graduate assistant for SIUC testing services, an in-service instructor for MicroAge Computers in Carbondale and then a JTPA instructor for Rend Lake College. While employed at SIUC, she served on the Puka School Inc. board, including two years as president.

Gitau said Rainbow’s End has already instituted some changes and improvements, including a more efficient way of receiving parental payment of childcare bills via payroll deduction or pre-payment utilizing student financial aid funds. He said Waier will be a proactive leader for the center, seeking grant funding, studying and revising existing programs as needed and making changes to assure Rainbow’s End retains its competitive edge in the child care arena.

Rainbow’s End is the University’s comprehensive child development program providing care for the children of students, faculty and staff. With licensure from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Service, the center provides care for children ages six weeks to 12 years. Current enrollment exceeds 130.

Waier fills the vacancy created by the December 2008 retirement of longtime director Eva D. Murray, who retired with 24 years of service to the University.